The Word Guy / Knowledge

English Goes on a Toot!

See whether you can spot the errors in these excerpts from newspapers and magazines:

1. "Every student ... started out under Weene's tootiledge?" Was he a trumpet teacher? (submitted by Paul Burton, Staten Island, N.Y.)

2. (From a restaurant ...

Stop Taking Verbal 'Self'ies!

As my friends know, I'm a mild-mannered and easy-going man. (Well... OK, there was that one time when the guy stole my parking space.)

So when it comes to grammar and usage, I often tolerate errors that more doctrinaire word experts would ...

Getting a 'Grip' on Hollywood Job Titles

"Gaffer"? "Key Grip"? "Foley Artist"?

As the Academy Awards approach, let's explore the origins of those strange job titles that scroll by during movie credits. We'll get help from Richard Weiner's book "The Skinny about Best Boys, Dollies, ...

Them's Fightin' Words!

Grab your cudgel, mate! We're plunging into the origins of "donnybrook," "brouhaha" and "ruckus." And, because experts disagree about the sources of some of these words, you can expect a real hair-pulling match as disputatious amateurs and ...

Is 'Based Off' Off Base?

Q. When did "based on" morph into "based off"? When I was teaching, I heard my students say it a lot, e.g., "This movie was based off the book." I just saw it in print for the first time: "Two toys based off Walt Disney's hit animated film..." ...

Compound Fracture of the Left Participle

You're the sentence doctor! Diagnose the ailment in each of these sentences, and then prescribe a rewrite to repair the problem. Just to make things interesting, one sentence is completely healthy.

1. The fact that experts disagree about the ...